Right, here I go again – ploughing onwards into the first full (US) length season of Voyager. I feel I should glance ahead a little to see what horrors await me, but I already know one of them…it’s called The 37s…
This was the second Voyager episode I ever watched, after Eye of the Needle. A bit random order perhaps, but this was the episode that cemented for me that I wasn’t going to be a regular viewer of this show. And I say that as someone who watched all four seasons of Enterprise first time round. In this episode Tom Paris’ hitherto unknown love of the 20th Century (pay attention, this is interest is going to pay off in spades later) comes to the fore when a 1930s Earth pickup-truck is found floating in deep space. For reasons that are never accurately explained. Or they were and I’d just glazed over in horror.
Brioi 1 “Hey, let’s abduct lots of random humans and then fly them 70,000 light years away.“
Brioi 2 “But what about this vehicle we scooped as well. Shall we dump it on the way?“
Brioi 1 “Nah, let’s wait til we get to the destination and then drop it into a stable orbit. That’s the ticket.“
Brioi 2 “Excellent, now we can activate the anal probes without a problem.“
Other ‘exciting’ stuff happens this episode, Voyager lands, the crew think about staying behind** and Janeway’s hair’s on the verge of changing. But none of them compare to the central concept of the episode of Amelia Earhart in Space. Terrible idea then, terrible idea now, and given this was supposed to be the last S1 story – the fact it nicks the central plot point from the TNG S1 finale The Neutral Zone (only without the dead cool bit with the Romulans) hardly a shining beacon of originality. Ah well, on we go – fingers crossed the next episode sucks less.
Particle beam of the week: Rust…erm, well that or nothing
Oh sweet Jebus it’s a Tacotray centric episode focusing on the Kazon. *sob* It took me four sessions to get through this turgid ‘Maybe we’re not all so different’ parable. The lame Klingon-wannabe Kazons weren’t great last season, and I hear they’re a big feature of S2. Someone…kill me now. I read in the notes on this one that this episode came about because they felt they’d ‘underused’ Tacotray last season. This really, really does not bode well for the next 6 seasons.
Particle beam of the week: Ginandtonicum. (I had to get through this somehow)
Hello, are we doing all one word episode titles this season? Anyway, thank the Divine Treasury, we finally get to a decent episode again. Frankly just having Bob Piccardo and Dwight Schultz bounding off each other for the whole episode made the ride an absolute delight. Two actors with great comedy drama chops, clearly working well together. Okay, okay so the whole plot was a bit Remember Me (easily my favourite Bev episode) with a touch of Ship in a Bottle (holodeck…in the holodeck?) and yeah, I spotted it was ‘all a dream/holodeck glitch’ a mile off. But that didn’t stop Projections being an enjoyable scifi comedy tale. I hope ST:Discovery doesn’t go all grimdark and forget Trek needs to be funny sometimes! Bonus points as the Doctor flashes back to the events of Caretaker for the line:
The Doctor “The array you discovered is controlled by an entity you will come to know as the Caretaker… or, Banjo-Man.“
Banjo-man. Nailed it. To top it all off the episode goes nicely existential as the Doctor begins to realise he’s growing beyond a simple emergency response programme. Character growth that actually sticks (Mr Neelix take note, and then please throw yourself headfirst into the garbage disposal).
Particle beam of the week: Subspace radiation surge
First you’re up, and then there’s a Kes episode. In this adventure, the Voyager encounters a flock of deep space-sperm (DSS) whose emissions penetrate(!) the notoriously leaky Starfleet deflectors to send Kes into heat. Tragically, none of the other races on board are affected, so we’re spared the discovery of Harry Kim being a (probable) virgin. As Neelix tries to deal with his girlfriend suddenly going all broody, a sweaty disheveled Kes drops two bombshells. Firstly OompaLoompa reproductive coupling takes 6 days***, and secondly it only happens once. Which means as a race, Kes’ people are not only cursed with a 9 year life cycle but a rapidly diminishing population (unless twins are a much, much more frequent thing than they are for humans).
Shades of Galaxy’s Child too as the space-sperm try to hump the Voyager, which (sorry) is the only the sex we get all episode. Although Kes does take us verbally through all the foreplay necessary for her race to reproduce, which seems a real group effort. And with that diminishing population, is going to be a real problem real soon. Oh, and some brilliant outdated attitudes from Neelix as he tells Kes “But if you have a child, you’ll have to give up your medical studies“. Gah! Overall though, a dull and utterly skipable episode, although I was left with the takeaway thought that if Tuvok has 4 children and vulcan’s only mate every 7 years…are they 28years apart in age? Or do vulcans have clinical, logical sex in between each pon farr****?
And to cap the episode off, vaguely appearing background character Samantha Wildman…announces she’s got a bun in her replicator. Oh no…
Particle beam of the week: Photon discharges & Plasma residue (Ooh, er. I’d get the Doctor to look at that)
Another one I’ve not seen before and I’m spotting a trend this season, as each lead character gets a spotlight episode. This week it’s perpetual ensign and (probable) virgin Harry Kim. Actually scratch that last bit, since he wakes up with his girlfriend. In bed. On Earth. I was more shocked by the former than the latter. After the Doctor’s episode I was suprised we were into another ‘Everything you know was a lie’ story, but at least this one didn’t turn out to be another holodeck malfunction.
Essentially the episode is actually It’s A Wonderful Life Harry Kim, as we find out what Harry (and Tom’s) life would have been like had he not gone on Voyager. For Harry, aside from attending that business meeting-dream where he’s forgotten his homework (but thankfully his trousers) life seems pretty sweet. A great job, a chance at promotion (!) and a busty (if needy) fiancé. Luckily the guy in the local coffee shop explains everything
Time Alien “Hey sorry Kim, you crashed into our timestream and went kablooey and well… here you are then. More sugar?“
But things look a lot worse – for Tom “Marseille” Paris. It’s not so much his alcoholic life in France and his lost chance at redemption, but oh sweet cheeses, that waistcoat. Why is it all the casual clothing in the 24th Century is so awful. When he helps Harry try and reset the timeline honestly, if he’d just said “Anything but this waistcoat” I’d have accepted it as rationale enough. Actually, all that to one side, I rather enjoyed this episode and it’s already clear there’s a great chemistry between Tom and Harry that thankfully the show does build on. In the end everything’s fine and dandy…although given how hot Libby looks…do you really think she’s gonna wait 7 years Harry?
Particle beam of the week: Tetreon plasma & polaron scan (2:4:1 discount)
A cold trickle of fear runs down my spine as this one opens on a surprise (3rd) birthday party for Kes. Not another Kes episode so soon, please! Thankfully not, as it’s more of an ensemble show this time. As all the fun members of the senior bridge crew and the Doctor enjoy the festivities, it’s left to Billyvok-no-mates and Harry “You had the last episode” Kim to man the bridge. Pretty soon though another mysterious cloud appears ahead of the Voyager (oh gawd, not more space-sperm!) and that’s when all the folded-space hijinks begin. Stand out early dialogue as Tuvok goes all Muppety over the com as the space-time starts getting all twisted
Mr Tuvok “Bridge to holodeck one. We’ve encountered a strange phenomena (do do-do do -da) phenomena (do do-do do -da)“
Meanwhile in the background the ongoing (and dull) Neelix-Kes-Paris love triangle simmers away as the B plot. What will the Delaney sisters say Tom? It’s really only setting up the next episode (Parturition), so does’t really go anywhere. I confess I burst out laughing as dear old Tacotray reports to the Captain on his exploration of the ship: “That’s not all, we lost Mr Neelix too. We turned a corner, and he was just gone“. And a world rejoices.
In the end it turns out that the cloud/space-time ring was trying to communicate with Voyager. Just like that time those aliens came aboard Red Dwarf, did a jigsaw, broke two legs and wiped everyone’s memories. Not content with leaving a massive dump of data for Voyager’s crew (that is never mentioned again, so it was clearly useless) they copy everything in the ship’s databases. Even Paris’ collection of highly risque, and highly illegal Tholian porn. Still, when push came to shove, it was nice seeing the Voyager crew face their own no-win scenario and just giving in to fate.
Particle beam of the week: Warp core shock pulse!
The long simmering (okay, since last episode) tensions between Paris and Neelix over Kes burst out into a pasta-laced scrap in the mess hall, but luckily there’s a mysterious planet with spurious vegetation signs for the two of them to go explore together. One crash later, and it’s time for the classic bonding between two foes in the face of adversity. Although I liked this story more when it was The Ascent. As they struggle to bring up alien-baby Neelix learns Paris is a loser trying to make something of himself, and Paris learns Neelix is a git…sorry, I mean an insecure git. Despite the shuttle crashing onto an alien’s breeding area, everything works out for the best in the end. Although that leaves just one question: if the Voyager is so low on food they’ll risk a mission to a hell-world to pick some veg up, where is Neeliz getting such varied supplies to cook with from? Surely the mess hall should be awash with jacket potatoes and beans every night now!
Highlight of the show, easily Mr Neelix reeling off his vile random food of the week to which Paris simply replies with a dismissive wave of his hand “Whatever!“, like the sulkiest of space-teens. Classic, unlike the rest of this episode which is utterly skipable.
Particle beam of the week: Trigemic vapours (containing everything a reptile baby needs!)
Persistence of Vision
Holy hades, we’re only up to episode 8 and we’re into the third ‘Reality isn’t what you think it is!’. This time it’s not time-aliens or malfunctioning holodecks, but a sneaky invisible telepathic bastard (a Bothan*****) onboard who keeps mesmerising everyone with visions of their missing loved ones. Including Harry’s girlfriend Libby, who we don’t see cos they couldn’t be bothered paying the actress from Non Sequiter to come back. Paris’ daddy issues make a reappearance, as despite what he’s told us, he’s missing dear old dad more than he’s been letting on. I rather enjoyed the early part where Janeway’s holonovel characters try to seduce and/or kill her.
Anyway, as the crew all start staring into space, Torres decides to use a resonance burst to block the psionic energy from the ship. Cos that worked out so well in Twisted! Okay, not a shock burst, but surely they’re pretty much the same thing, right – both all about the warp core going slightly overloady? While as this technobabble was going on I noted that the engineering sensors are explicitly mentioned as being able to detect psychic energy. Sure that’ll come in handy once Kes goes off her rocker later on (although dollars to latinum, it won’t get mentioned again). Pretty sure Starfleet might have mentioned that psychic energy could be picked up by tricorders and the like before. Speaking of things never to mention again, I’m also going to skip over the fantasy sex scene between Torres and Tacotray. Gah, no, pass the brain bleach someone!
Overall though, a bit of a naff episode, only slightly enlivened by Janeway’s offer to lobotomize, imprison or surgically alter the captured Bothan, only for him to be ‘Not really there at all’. Did this episode happen, or did I hallucinate 42 minutes of this dreck? You decide for yourselves!
Particle beam of the week: Massive bioelectric (psychic) field
An episode I remember watching years ago and hating because it centred on Tacotray, and native american space-aliens. Sadly, not the borderline racist lot in The Paradise Syndrome (“I! Am! Kirok!“). Anyway, here I am years later watching it, and I hate it because it’s centered on Tacotray, and invisible native american ‘sky spirits’. Once more it’s all a big misunderstanding between the aliens and the Voyagerians…and we’re on our way pretty much none the wiser.
Highlight of the episode is Henry Darrow (aka that guy offa The High Chaparral) who is pretty cool, in an episode that made me wish I was watching Sub Rosa. Yes, it’s that bad. At least that episode had Bev/ghost sex to brighten up a terrible plotline. Oh okay, the Doctor gets a cold to help with his bedside manner, by appreciating human suffering. His warning about not letting anyone else use the holographic tissues (“OMG, I walked out of medbay and now all my snot’s just in my pocket!“) amused me. Although, frankly the Doctor should just have watched this episode, and he’d have soon discovered what true suffering is all about.
Bonus Tacotray picture – at the end of the episode moments before when a passing bird deposits its own special ‘anti-thoron’ emission on his face. This almost made up for an episode that took me four long sessions to get through – it was just so turgid that it almost makes me look forward to the next one. Which centres around Kes. Oh lord, what deities have I offended?
Particle beam of the week: Anti-Thoron
After coming across another Caretaker’s array, Kes learns to harness her emerging psychic abilities to boil a cup of coffee, kill all the Voyager’s airponics(6*) vegetable garden and blow up Mr Tuvok’s head ala scanners. Well, almost – I was rather hoping Voyager was going for a horror vibe, but sadly it wasn’t to be. I spent most of the episode wondering why, given we were told the Caretaker’s other array was filled with 10,000 Oompa Loompas, why we only ever see one of them on screen (Tanis, played by Matthew Sykes/Ambassador Soval actor Gary Graham). After Kes’ powers get quite interesting, the typical Voyager reset switch is hit at the end of the episode as it turns out she can “Only use them when Tanis was helping her“. Jason Ironheart and Talia Winters it is not, as the psychic genie is put well and truly back in the box. A real shame as the writers could just as easily had Kes swear off using her powers with a firm vow, lest she boil the rest of the crew’s heads. It’s not wonder she eventually turns into a space crazy energy beast in a couple of seasons, all that pent up psychic energy has to go somewhere.
Amusing thought of the episode – as Kes is experiencing/leaching all the life out of the airponics bay, she clearly looks like she’s having somewhat of a sexual experience. If that’s the case, and her draining of the life around her is a side effect of the Oompa Loompa mating process – Mr Neelix got off lightly in Elogium! Anyway, this was another episode I’d never seen before, and pray I’ll never see again!
Particle beam of the week: Plasmic energy field
A really short opening teaser which reveals Tacotray’s off duty garb to be some sort of horrific knitted jumper (from his granny?), and the announcement that somehow here in the Delta Quadrant there’s a Starfleet signal being transmitted. So that’ll be the only member of Starfleet in the quadrant not on Voyager then I guessed (Seska). Shockingly my rather simple deduction defeated the Voyager crew for the first third of the episode, reminded me why they’re crewing a tiny survey vessel and not the flagship of the fleet. To add insult to injury (this is the THIRD Tacotray centric episode of the season – he’s getting more than anyone else) the sodding klingon-lite kazon turn up to steal stuff. All of which means Tacotray has to go rogue to try and outfox Seska, and ends up getting space-raped for his trouble. Okay she ‘extracts his DNA and impregnates herself with it’, so maybe she doesn’t do the physical act but hell it’s still a major personal violation, and yet its one that’s hand waved in the last 30 seconds of the show. I actually felt sorry for him, and THAT doesn’t happen very often at all.
Anyone else think Seska rounds off the episode Dr Claw style? “I’ll get you next time Chakotay…next time!” Oh and finally, since he violated every rule in the Starfleet manual, Tacotray gets a mild slap on the wrist “I’m putting you on report, if that even means anything anymore” says Janeway, knowing full well it means bugger all. At the very least she could have had him publicly flogged in the mess hall, the crew must be starving for some entertainment after 10+ months in the Delta Quadrant with only gothic holonovels for company!
By the way, the interrogation of Voyager’s first officer…it’s no Chains of Command pt 2!
Particle beam of the week: Anti-proton beam
Worst. ‘Allo ‘Allo Remake. Ever. This week Janeway gets left behind on an ‘exciting’ undercover mission, and is mistaken by a local resistance looney for his (probably) dead daughter. Within a minute of seeing this I concluded ‘He’s going to get killed saving her life, and his whole family are dead, dead, dead’. Colour me not shocked when exactly this happens. There’s some other plot about some technobabble McGuffin we’ve never heard of before suddenly being essential for the warp-reactor, which is why the Voyager crew came to Nazi-analogue world in the first place. Only bright spot, Kes doesn’t appear all episode. Totally, utterly and completely skipable story with no ramifications for anyone that matters (e.g. the core cast). Meanwhile left behind, the Mokra occupation of the Alsaurians continues unabated.
Particle beam of the week: Nothing. Boo!
In an intriguing opening Torres rescues something from deep space, and then with the help of Harry ‘Not done much lately’ Kim effects a RoboCop homage to reactivate it. As I watched it I shouted “Aha! It’s Dreadnought, when she rescues that Cardassian AI missile…” only to discover that Dreadnought was actually later this season, and essentially continues B’Elanna’s reactivation of death machines motif. Anyway, turns out the robots – which are somehow actually worse quality in appearance than anything that ever appeared in 1960s Doctor Who – are surprise surprise mild mannered terminators. Actually, if these robots had been used in Captain Proton’s holonovels, the audience would have thought they looked crap.
Even better, these sub-Kryton mechanoids are locked in an eternal war with other, almost identical robots…having both killed off their creator races. Only not eternal since they can’t make new ones (and hence Torres could change the balance of power with her techy tech), and will probably wipe each other out soon. I think there were some moral questions been raised here about artificial life and its rights to procreate, and even some Frankenstein allegories twixt Torres and Unit 3947, but I might be being too generous. At least Torres learns a valuable lesson about not fucking about with mysterious alien tech until…oh, four episodes time.
Kes factor: One scene, pouring coffee. YES! At least that’s a good point to consider.
Particle beam of the week: Chromodynamic Energy Discharge (antibiotics needed?)
Okay that’s the first half of season 2 down – coming up soon, the rest of the season including the near legendary Trek episode which even Sub Rosa bows to in terms of awfulness!
* Shouldn’t this be The 37s? Apostrophe abuse. In space.
**None of them. Not one. Out of a crew of 147. Surely Neelix’s food and Tacotray and Paris’s relentless sharking of the lower ranks would have seen someone jump ship?
***How do they go to the bathroom during this…no wait, don’t think about that – it’s too filthy to imagine!
**** “Indeed. I appear to have climaxed. How satisfactory”
*****Did George Lucas know about this cross-franchise appearance?
6* Airponics!? Is this even a thing or is hydroponics just too old hat for the 24th Century?